Beating the Winter Blues

As Mandy Pitcher explains, there are many ways we can combat the gloom of winter to feel lighter, brighter and uplifted.

The festive period is behind us. We have said goodbye to friends and family, and the colder winter months are upon us. The days can be grey and dark as we wait for Spring to bloom and for many this can be an incredibly tough time of year. 

Our bodies need sunshine, not only to make us feel happy but to provide us with a good dose of Vitamin E. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) – also referred to as the winter blues – can affect so many with symptoms like low mood, disinterest, tiredness, depression, anxiety, increased appetite and immense sadness.

Let there be light

The mental health charity MIND states that in Northern Europe an estimated one in ten suffers with SAD. In countries near the equator you rarely hear of this condition. Sunlight affects our internal body clock and produces the hormones melatonin and serotonin (the happy hormone); if we have lower levels in our body, it can affect how our nerve cells communicate leading to SAD symptoms.

During the winter months it’s important to try and get outside as much as possible. There may not be the warm sunlight of the summer months but walking in nature is a boost for our mental wellbeing. Any exercise releases endorphins into the body, bringing increased energy and positivity. 

A possible solution to help with the darker, gloomy days is to look at ‘wake-up’ lights, which gradually create a brightening light like a sunrise to naturally wake you, allowing you to feel energised and ready for the day. At bedtime they can create a fading sunset effect that helps to relax you and aids sleep. Sitting in front of a light box or lamp that mimics natural sunlight each morning may help with symptoms. 

Essential oils can be naturally uplifting and wonderful for improving your mood, particularly:

• Bergamot oil, which I refer to as sunshine in a bottle. Inhaling the oil brings a smile to your face and transports you to a warm, sunny climate. It calms, relaxes and restores. It can also help a racing heart and is a natural antidepressant bringing balance to the body.

• Neroli oil, with its divine aroma, is described as the rescue remedy of essential oils. It provides emotional support, is calming and balancing, and a favourite of mine for treating anxiety. 

• Sweet orange oil brings positivity and courage, as well as happiness, brightness and light. It can increase serotonin levels.

• Peppermint oil is energising and stimulating, plus it can combat fatigue and aid focus. 

The oils mentioned above are calming, uplifting and also energising but with SAD it’s also important to feel protected and grounded. The following oils can help: 

• Vetiver oil is one of the most grounding oils. It provides support to the nervous system and also gentle sedation, bringing restoration and calm.

• Frankincense oil is deeply relaxing and deepens the breath in times of stress and anxiety. It improves focus and concentration too. 

• Patchouli oil is calming to mind, body and spirit. It is incredibly beneficial to those suffering with depression.

• Cedarwood oil boosts emotional strength and stability, and is perfect for providing support and strength during difficult times.

You can use essential oils in so many ways: inhalation via a personal aroma inhaler, electrical diffuser or oil burner; relaxing in an aromatic bath; spritzing your bed linen; room sprays to create a subtle aroma; massaging the body using oils and lotions. Essential oils have powerful physiological and physical benefits, which can induce calm, balance and focus, as well as being restorative, uplifting and easing muscular aches and pains.

It cannot be claimed that essential oils are a cure for serious illnesses. Please seek professional advice before using them and with pregnancy and the elderly. Never ingest essential oils. 

Mandy Pitcher 

mandypitcher.com 

Tel: 07545 261205 | Email: mandypitcher@me.com

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